Betty Marion White (born January 17, 1922) is a film and television actress with a career spanning 60 years. White is perhaps best known for her close association with the game show, Password, her affiliation with animal charities (Actors and Others for Animals), and her roles in the television sitcoms The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mama's Family and The Golden Girls, as well as being a regular panelist on the popular 1970s game show Match Game.
She is a life-long member of the Democratic Party, and has contributed more than $9,000 to various Democratic political candidates and organizations, including Diane Feinstein and John Kerry.
She made her film debut as Kansas Senator Elizabeth Ames Adams in the 1962 drama Advise and Consent.
White made many appearances on the hit game show Password as a guest celebrity from 1961 through 1975. She married the show's host, Allen Ludden. She subsequently appeared on the show's three updated versions Password Plus , Super Password, and Million Dollar Password, having been on versions of the game with five different hosts (Ludden, Cullen, Kennedy, Convy, and Philbin).
White also made frequent game show appearances on What's My Line? (starting in 1955), To Tell the Truth (in 1961 and in 1990), I've Got a Secret (in 1972-73), Match Game (1973-1982) and Pyramid (starting in 1982). Both Password and Pyramid were created by White's friend, Bob Stewart. In 1983, she became the first woman to win a Daytime Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Game Show Host, for the NBC entry Just Men!. Due to the amount of work she has done on them, she has been deemed the "First Lady of Game Shows."
In 1973, White landed her signature role as the sardonic, man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens, The Happy Homemaker, on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The running gag was that Sue Ann's hard-edged private personality was the complete opposite of how she presented herself on her show. "We need somebody sickeningly sweet, like Betty White," Moore herself suggested at a production meeting, with the result of casting White. White won two Emmy Awards for her role in the hugely popular series.
Following that show's end in 1977, she was given her own sitcom on CBS, The Betty White Show, during the 1977-78 season, in which she co-starred with John Hillerman and (former Mary Tyler Moore co-star) Georgia Engel. It was canceled after one season.
White was originally offered the role of Blanche in The Golden Girls and Rue McClanahan was offered the role of Rose (the two characters being similar to roles they had played in Mary Tyler Moore and Maude respectively) but decided to switch in fear of being typecast. White was originally scared to play the role of Rose, feeling that she would not be able to play the role, until the show's creator took her aside and told her not to play Rose as stupid, but to play her as someone "terminally naive, a person who always believed the first explanation of something."
After The Golden Palace was canceled, White guest-starred on a number of television programs including Ally McBeal, The Ellen Show, My Wife and Kids, That 70s Show, Everwood, Joey, and Malcolm in the Middle. She received Emmy Award nominations for her appearances on Suddenly Susan, Yes, Dear and The Practice. She won an Emmy in 1996 for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, appearing as herself on a memorable episode of The John Larroquette Show. In that episode, titled "Here We Go Again", a spoof on Sunset Boulevard, a diva-like White convinces Larroquette to help write her memoirs. In one bit, Golden Girls co-stars McClanahan and Getty appear as themselves. Larroquette is forced to dress in drag as Beatrice Arthur, when all four appear in public as the "original" cast members. White comically envisions her Rose as the central character with the other cast members as mere supporting players.
In December 2006, White joined the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful in the role of Ann Douglas, the long-lost mother of the show's matriarch Stephanie Forrester, who is played by Susan Flannery. In February 2007, White returned as Ann, who had an intent to move to L.A. to be near her daughters. The characters of Ann and Pamela Douglas (Alley Mills) disappeared after their March 27, 2007 appearance and were not mentioned again until October 19, 2007 when Ann appeared briefly. White would go onto appear in two more episodes following that, one on December 10, 2007 and the other on August 28, 2008. To date she has made 17 appearances as Ann Douglas.
On the April 22, 2007 airing of The 2007 TV Land Awards, White starred in a parody of "Ugly Betty", aptly titled Ugly Betty White, in which she played America Ferrera's title character, with Charo playing Betty's sister Hilda and Erik Estrada playing her father Ignacio. Due to her performance as Ugly Betty White, the producers of Ugly Betty signed White to play herself as the victim of Wilhelmina Slater's temper as they both vie for a cab in the episode Bananas for Betty, which aired December 6, 2007.
Betty White appeared as a roaster on the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner.
White returned to Password in its latest incarnation, Million Dollar Password, on June 12,2008, participating in the Million Dollar challenge at the end of the show. Her quick correct responses helped the contestant win $100,000.
White has made a number of appearances in skits on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, playing the part of an Exxon representative, an accountant with a briefcase full of cocaine, and a nurse who just got her medical license from El Salvador. She also appeared as herself with a shoe box full of receipts, explaining that she was doing her taxes. On July 18, 2008 she also appeared on the Tonight Show With Jay Leno in a skit entitled "Can You Make Betty White Flinch".
In the summer of 2008, Betty White began filming the upcoming motion picture "The Proposal" with Sandra Bullock in Boston.
In January 2007, she became the official spokesperson for 1800PetMeds and was featured in their new-for-2007 advertising campaign.